Tantra: Celebrating Our Essential Oneness

Here in the West, the word “tantra” has provocative connotations, as popularized by rock star yogi Sting and his purported bedroom practices. But tantra is more than just what happens between the sheets—it’s a life-affirming philosophy that celebrates all aspects of existence.

According to Kripalu presenter Todd Norian, tantra “values the human experience as the highest form of consciousness and sees each of us as the crystallization of the Divine’s desire to know itself.” In other words, it is a philosophy that seeks to discover the deeper truths and threads that bind us to the wonders and mysteries of the world.

Tantra is nondual in its approach, meaning that it believes that everything in this universe is infused with one cosmic energy, and that all sentient beings are infused by and connected to this singular energy. This energy—prana, the life force—is what animates our consciousness. We can harness that powerful energy through activities such as yoga, breathwork, mantra, and meditation.

So how do sex and intimacy relate to tantra? According to Gary Kraftsow, founder of Viniyoga and another Kripalu presenter, tantra is a powerful vehicle for conscious relationships. Gary says that tantra helps us to move beyond our sense of separateness in relationships by allowing us to realize our essential oneness. “It teaches us that others are not who we think they are, and that if we want to make deeper connections [with our partners] we must be able to really listen to know who they are.”

Here are three ways to use tantra in your yoga practice.

Celebrate your body. Find joy in being embodied, in being alive. Let your yoga practice be a celebration of gratitude toward your body, your whole being. Notice how the muscles open and warm up as you move through your asana practice, how your body starts to become stronger, more supple, and more fluid as you flow.

Celebrate your breath. Take full, deep, mindful breaths with every movement, at every moment. Notice how your heart opens with the fullness of the inhales, how your belly softens with each exhale. The breath is a vehicle for the life-force energy that illuminates the universe and fills you with life and vitality.

Celebrate your heart. Connecting to consciousness is of essence in tantra. Your heart’s wisdom beats with the conscious pulse of the universe. As you move and breathe through your practice, notice the aspects of yourself that expand, open, extend, and which aspects of yourself release, relax, let go. Notice how, through it all, your heart continues to beat and pulse, how life courses through you.  

Find out about upcoming programs with Todd Norian at Kripalu.

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